Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes: 5 Things to Know
Leila Lopes of Angola beat out 88 competitors for the Miss Universe 2011 crown Monday night, the 60th anniversary of the worldwide beauty pageant, co-ownded by NBC and Donald Trump. She takes over from the 2010 winner, Mexico's Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.
The first runner-up was Olesia Stefanko of Ukraine, followed by Priscila Machado of Brazil. The pageant took place in Brazil and was co-hosted by Today newsreader Natalie Morales and Bravo's Andy Cohen.
Here are a few things you may not know about the 25-year-old winner:
1. She hopes to help the people of Angola, located in south-central Africa and bordered by Namibia. “I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs,” she said at the competition. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.” She added, "as Miss Angola I’ve already done a lot to help my people" and plans to raise awareness of HIV around the world.
2. Lopes says she has never had plastic surgery, and instead focuses on getting a lot of sleep, using sunscreen and drinking lots of water. “Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Lopes said. “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.” She feels her smile is secret weapon.
3. She's the fourth African American Miss Universe (following Trinidad & Tobago's Janelle Commissiong, Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana and Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad & Tobago). When asked about racism, she responded, "Any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”
4. Lopes helped win over the hometown Brazilian crowd by speaking the country's native language, Portuguese. (Angola and Brazil are both former Portuguese colonies.) "She captivated the crowd and we were all behind her," Brazilian Natalie Bursztyn, who was in the crowd inside Credicard Hall, told the Associated Press. "It was great that the judges also saw what the fans saw and gave her the crown. Her dress was beautiful and she knew exactly what to say when they asked her the question about her looks."
5. Lopes, who is 5-foot-10.5-inches, was named Miss Angola after competing against 21 finalists in the town of Luanda on Dec. 18, 2010. She also obtained the Photogenic Award there before going on to win the rights to represent Angola in the Miss Universe 2011 pageant. Miss Universe pageant contestants need to have never been married or had children and be between 18 and 27 by Feb. 1 of the competition year.